Today is guest blogging day at Talking Business, so we have Laura Pearman of Pearman Photography giving her insights on stock photos and more.
Have you found yourself finishing up the important bit of writing out slides for a presentation you have coming up, or better yet, planning out your social media, and at the very last minute thought to yourself “Pictures!”, “I’ll whack in a few Pictures!”. Where do you go? Google? A stock site? Or frantically raid your phone for “something that will do”?
Well, Tiana has asked me here today to tell you all about how a little bit of planning and consideration once a year (even bi-annually) could do serious wonders for building your brand and reputation when it comes to the level of imagery you use in your business.
Take a quick look at these shots:
Which is more appealing?
Which do you think looks more expensive and luxurious?
The first image, right?
So lets go through both of these images and take a good look why you felt these things? The first one has a real model in for starters, its so much easier for you to see how the product fits on her head, and the overall effect it has on her appearance. The colours, light, pose, expression and angle in which this image has been shot has been carefully thought out and planned. You feel the model does seem bridal, ethereal, calm, and she is lucky to be wearing those precious jewels. The business retailing these must be quite classy, they clearly know a thing or two about style and fashion, I’m sure they’d be able to help pick out the right bridal hair band for just about anyone who would want one.
Lets address this second one then. That watermark is a bit annoying isn’t it? Your eye gets distracted by it, and you stop looking at the product and start trying to decipher what it says. There is a serial number in the bottom right hand corner. What does that tell us? I think it probably means there is more options for this band, it probably comes in a range of shades and that number changes each time the shade or colour changes. Who is that hand? Where is that hand based? It looks like a factory or back-room (that’s due to the bluish lighting by the way). How thick are those feathers? I bet they aren’t even real. I come away from this image practically smelling the polythene bag it was mass packaged in. How does it make you feel?
What if in actual fact the first image was all fake jewels, and what if the silver fleur-de-li on the second image was solid Britannia silver. Would you see the actual value shift in either product knowing this? Probably not.
Now I know this is an extreme example, but these thoughts run through peoples sub consciousness when they are assessing a possible future purchase. When making any online purchase the cynic in us demands answers to the reliability of the seller, we do little checks to ascertain whether sending this person our hard earned money is a risky decision or not.
What do the images you use on your site say to potential buyers or investors?
The number one reply I imagine you are all saying/yelling back at me on this topic is something along the lines of “Yeah, Laura thanks for that, I kinda knew that anyway. But really, tell me, how could I possibly spring for a pro photographer to come and help me out?” That’s what this next bit is about.
So by now I’m hoping you will see how badly a DIY job could affect your brand, your reputation and then ultimately your sales. So lets look at the next one on the list, Stock images.
For those of you not in-the-know a stock image is created by a pro or amateur photographer. Chances are they do something else to earn their living, because the money they get paid every time an image they made gets used is a pittance. Picture it, lines and lines of unhappy photographers working in jobs that don’t satisfy them, subjecting their loved ones to this dissatisfaction, noticing the aches and pains in their hearts manifesting into real serious medical issues. The pain! The Torment! Ok, ok, so yes I’m laying it on a wee bit thick there, but you get my point.
The real masters behind this racket are the agencies. The ones who own all that lovely powerful SEO, the ones whose images (that they own 100% by the way) pop up on your screen when you type “picture of a happy office worker” into your google search bar.
You love this image, it feels like just the right thing for you. This is going to make your presentation soooo professional. Its going to make you seem on the top of the pile of your competitors. Then you find this screen:
The first thing here to note is the very small text at the top: “Good for small projects”. Now that means in loose terms that you are allowed to use this image in the presentation you want to stick it in today. But, if that image does win you the big job you are going for, then chances are, in order to comply with copyright law, you will have to buy some more credits to be allowed to do this legally.
The guide here gives you an average price of £166 for enough credits to see you through today’s needs.
Lets say you pop another two or three images in the presentation to really show yourself off.
You’d now be looking at a bill of £498. Lets call it £500.
Remember what I just said there. You have no guarantees that these images will be able to be used again. So if the presentation is a hit and you have to get one of those images turned into a set of leaflets, or a pop up banner. Who is to say you will not have to buy more credits again? Then you’d have to add on your costs of printing, design, and delivery of the final promotional pieces.
Do you know that for a similar price, you could have employed a fellow local SME photographer to help you out? I’m proud to charge a very reasonable rate of £600 for a full day of my photographic time. And this is extremely reasonable. Photographers who specialise in commercial work and have years on me, and more technical know how, are well within their rights to charge double or triple of what I ask for. And then again on the same scale, lets not forget the amateurs, and the newbie students out there. As a rule students are instructed (by reputable colleges and tutors) to charge for their time, out of respect to the industry. If a dude tells you he can do the job for £50, do not be surprised if what you end up with is nearer to image B than image A. And, if you decide to scrimp and go with a student, do so with a clear expectation. The student will take much longer to turn the job around, and if they forget to do a crucial part of the job, its fine, they are learning, that’s why you got a big discount.
If you took the choice of supporting a fellow business the possibilities are blown wide open from the restrictions of that Google search pane. Do you want a cloud of smoke in the shot? Do you want that blue of your shirt to match the blue in your brand EXACTLY? Do you really hate that mole on your chin and really want it to look like it was never there? All of these things can be easily accommodated when you go down the route of creating your very own bank of images. Whatsmore, the value you get from them is so much greater than “going stock”. Any professional photographer should issue you with a clear cut licence to images once they have been edited and produced to your requirements. This licence will prove to anyone out there that you own the images in a commercial capacity. This means you can whack it out on a leaflet, on a pop up banner, on a billboard, or even in the stand at the next Champions League Match. You can do all of that as part of the money you paid to the photographer. Now, if you decide to enter the picture into an international contest, say the next Pirelli Calendar, and say it belongs to your business, then I’m sure the photographer you worked with, is probably going to meet you in court. After all, they were the person who created it, and if you read the fine print on the licence you should have been issued with, then you will find it says the photographer retains ownership of the image up to 70 years after the day they snuff it. Many photographers leave their copyright to successors as part of their wills. (just a little bit of trivia there for you).
So, in summary then. Take a good look over your site, your social media, and all of your promotional tools. Now look specifically at the imagery you have on them all. Is it consistent? Do they all represent the values of your brand? Are they current? Are they innovative?
Then maybe its time to chat with a photographer.
Laura is the founder of Pearman Photography. She has a studio in Felling, Gateshead and has been in business for 5 years. After working in the corporate sector, Laura got into photography during a round the world adventure. She graduated at the top of her class in Commercial Photography and then went on to work for some noted Photographers in a variety of fields. With a mutli-ranging set of skills, she now offers a range of photographic services from her studio, and out across the North east region to the rest of the UK.